There’s no skirting around the issue: Diversity in the fashion industry has been sorely lacking since the beginning. Whether it’s designers, models or even who’s invited to Fashion Week, fashion has always had a major diversity problem. So what is the Black in Fashion Council that’s just popped up—and how will it change the fashion industry as we know it? It’s actually pretty easy to understand.
According to the Black in Fashion Council website, the group’s goal is to not only represent Black individuals in the fashion and beauty industries, but also work for and secure the advancement of them as well. The site also states: “As a collective, we envision a world in which Black people in fashion and beauty spaces can be open and honest, guaranteed equal rights, and be celebrated for our voices.” While that seems like a clear mission—and it is—this council can’t do it alone.
The Black in Fashion Council encourages everyone in the industry to rise up and fight for diversity and equality in fashion as well. It shouldn’t be up to BIPOC to do it all by themselves—leaving the oppressed to fix the environment the oppressor has created. If anything, this council is a call to action for white folks in the fashion industry—as well as a way to keep them accountable.
Founded by Teen Vogue editor in chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Sandrine Charles, the owner of Sandrine Charles Consulting, the collective has also enlisted the support of both the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). In addition, they’ve created an executive board with members like costume designer Shiona Turini and GQ deputy fashion director Nikki Ogunnaike.
With the support of big names in fashion, along with the HRC and CFDA, the Black in Fashion Council will produce a public report to track the work of companies that have signed on (for a three year commitment!) to and pledged to grow the representation of Black people in all areas and levels of their business. The executive board of the council will help facilitate this work, but it’s still up to white people to do their part and help create this systemic change in the fashion industry.
There’s plenty of work left to be done (that’s far, far overdue), but we have hope that the Black in Fashion Council and the Black Lives Matter movement itself will finally spark something in the fashion industry and change things for good. It’s time for white individuals in fashion to rise to the occasion and make the industry a place where everyone is equal. We can—and will—do better.